The new programme supports co-operation between local and regional authorities, educational institutions, civic organisations, business organisations, and think tanks in all fields that are of mutual Nordic-Russian interest.
“We’re expecting there to be a good deal of interest in this programme,” says Jens Nytoft Rasmussen, senior advisor at the Secretariat to the Nordic Council of Ministers. Applications for funding are not limited to internal Nordic organisations and partners – external stakeholders are also welcome to apply. However, a prerequisite for funding is that the project involves at least two Nordic countries and one Russian party.
In addition to the public co-operation programme that is being launched, the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Russia programme consists of three thematic co-operation programmes administered by external Nordic co-operation bodies. This year saw the start of an environmental programme, as well as a programme focusing on co-operation on health. A programme relating to the development of civil society and human rights is due to be launched later.
Co-operation between the Nordic Region and Northwest Russia has been on the backburner since the Russian ministry of justice decided to change the status of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ offices in Russia to “foreign agents” in January 2015. There is still only a minimal level of activity at the council of ministers’ office in St.Petersburg, and the office has no connection with future co-operation.
The Russia programme will be evaluated in 2017, and its future scope depends on the experiences from and interest in the sub-programmes that have just got underway.